Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Deadline Looms And PSF May Pay Unfair Price

Deadline looms for PSF stink

State could sue if hog farms not fixed.
Monday, May 17, 2010

KANSAS CITY (AP) — Hog processing giant Premium Standard Farms LLC spent $40 million over the past decade developing technology after a court ordered it to sharply reduce odors at its Missouri farms, but a looming deadline is threatening another costly lawsuit.

A panel of experts recently approved a barn-scraper system that met goals established under a 1999 court settlement with environmental groups to develop “next-generation technology.” But the deadline to implement the system is July 31, and the company — which said it had little success developing the technology until now — needs another two years to get the system in place.

Missing the deadline would allow the state to sue, and the Missouri attorney general’s office said July 31 remains its target. The deadline has already been pushed back once

“It’s going to take some time, and people need to be aware of that,” Premium Standard President Bill Homann said.

The Princeton, Mo.-based company employs about 1,100 people in the state, mostly in economically depressed communities in northern Missouri. It has roughly 97,000 sows that are expected to produce about 1.8 million market hogs this year.

An expert panel established by the court approved biofilters as next-generation technology in 2008, but Premium Standard called them ineffective and too costly to install at its dozens of farms in northern Missouri.

The three-member expert team turned down all of the company’s other plans until April, when it determined the criteria also were met by a system that would use giant scrapers to push manure into gutters, where it would be removed from the barn and trucked away.

The method would replace current systems that use water to flush hog manure from barns and into big lagoons for treatment.

But the panel’s decision came barely three months before Premium Standard’s deadline to have new technology implemented.

The Missouri attorney general’s office must now decide whether to grant Premium Standard another extension or to file a lawsuit against the company. In 2004, the original deadline for compliance, the target date was pushed back to July 2010.

“Discussions between the parties are ongoing,” said Nancy Gonder, spokeswoman for Attorney General Chris Koster. “There has not been a resolution. The July 31 deadline remains our target.”

But it could get tricky.

Premium Standard officials warned in March that the company’s Missouri operations could be moved elsewhere after a Jackson County jury awarded 15 plaintiffs more than $11 million in a nuisance lawsuit. Many other lawsuits are pending.

At a mid-March meeting that packed a junior college gymnasium in Trenton, Premium Standard supporters pleaded with the expert panel to look favorably upon the company’s latest odor-management proposals.

“Finally we have found a solution amiable to both sides,” Homann said Thursday. “We can go back and say the missing link was barn odor control technology. Now it’s up to the attorney general’s office to agree or offer alternatives.”

Yikes! Not only do hog producers have activists, sue-happy neighbors, DNR regulations, and general PR to deal with; now, we have to worry about getting sued by the state itself. Odor is something that comes with farming in general but now we can have legal action against us for it. Our barns stink when it's super humid or when we agitate the pit but the organic farm across the road from my house stinks just as bad for the same reasons. Bottom line: poop stinks, get use to it.

Premium Standard farms has been working on "next generation technology" for several years now to control the odor. However, the problem remains because there hasn't been a cost effective method that actually works. To put a deadline on technology that doesn't even exist yet seems a trifle unfair. To make this even less fair (if that's possible) all of Premium Standard's proposed ideas have been turned down until just a few months ago. How does the state, which takes several months to just decide anything let alone act on it, expect an entirely new system to be constructed and operational on dozens of farms in only a few months? It's just unrealistic.

This is a real threat to hog farmers. I can't speak for everyone but I know our farm and the vast majority of other hog producers in Missouri follow the rules, get the permits, pass inspections, and do everything within their power to keep the farm running as it should and as it is required to run. Despite all this, despite following the rules and complying with new ones our government still won't stand behind us. Hog producers and farmers in general pay loads of state and local taxes that go toward improvements, schools, etc. and yet our state won't stand behind us. Premium Standard Farms employs 1,100 people, local people; our little hog operation employs 6 people, four separate households, and yet our community won't stand behind us. It's a sad day when good country folks have turned so bitter that they would rather sue thy neighbor than love thy neighbor.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Great News for Pork Producers

China begins accepting U.S. pork shipments
May 14, 2010 by Ken Anderson
Brownfield Ag News

China has given official notice that it is again accepting shipments of U.S. pork.

The Chinese closed their market to U.S. pork in late April 2009 in the wake of an outbreak in humans of novel H1N1 influenza, which the media misnamed “swine” flu. In March, the U.S. and China reached an agreement to reopen the Chinese markets to U.S. pork imports, but it took China until now to begin accepting product.

National Pork Producers Council president Sam Carney of Adair, Iowa calls it “tremendous news for U.S. pork producers.” Carney says with that issue resolved, NPPC will now focus on the remaining impediments to exporting U.S. pork to China. Those include China’s ban on U.S. pork produced with ractopamine, an FDA-approved feed ingredient that improves efficiencies in pork production—subsidies China provides its domestic pork producers—and a value-added tax it imposes on imports. Read what the Pork Network has to say.

If you think the media has no effect on businesses, think again. Because the media nicknamed the H1N1 virus "swine" flu pork shipments to China came to a screeching halt--worth nearly $690 million in 2008. These kinds of mishaps, though seemingly harmless, have drastic consequences that affect us all. When Ag hurts, the consumer hurt. These little things trickle down the line and eventually end up costing you a lot more at the grocery store. Because of the H1N1 nickname, HSUS has jumped all over this opportunity to attack animal agriculture. They have links with hints like "Find out where swine flu originated. (Hint: think factory farms)." This kind of misleading information is harmful to agribusinesses everywhere and I don't just mean the corporations, either.

Another big misconception is the fact that the word “agribusiness” applies to every farmer out there. Activist groups, like HSUS, use the word "agribusiness" as if it is a bad thing but farming is a business. Farmers do not farm because it is fun, or neat, or they just have a lot of time on their hands. They farm to make money because farming is a business. Yes, we enjoy it but it is hard work and it takes a great deal of money to provide food for our community, our nation, and the world. Agribusiness is farming, period. Moreover, misleading labels like "swine" flu are dangerous to every farming out there.

A little common sense goes a long way.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Everything But The Oink: Swine Waste Hits The Road In St. Louis

Here is a great story for all my pig eating friends; a 500-foot stretch of St. Louis roadway was paved with recycled swine manure. That's right; the outer road along Interstate 44 next to Six Flags is now pig poop pavement. Pigs make so many by-products, from plastics to fiberglass to insulation; we can now add bio-oil and asphalt binder to the growing list. One of the big issues that animal activists overlook is the plethora of products that would become near impossible to make (or at least unreasonably expensive to make) if animal Ag was abolished.

Innoventor with the help of Pace Construction Co. have embraced the three R's of sustainability--reduce, reuse, recycle. By replacing petroleum based products with a renewable resource, like hog manure, they are not only helping the environment but also finding a use for a controversial waste product. This is truly a win-win situation for environmentalists and hog producers everywhere. I just hope everyone is willing to see it as the great achievement it is.
Read more...you know you want to.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pork Producers Help Flood Victims

Pork producers help flood victims

May 11, 2010 by Dave Russell
Filed under Events/Organizations, Human Interest, Livestock, News

Help during the recent flooding in Tennessee came in various forms, and for Tennessee pork producers, disaster relief came in the form of serving pork to those not only affected by the flood, but to those who were helping provide relief.

“The Tennessee Pork Producers reached out to us and said, ‘You know that trailer that we take to the Titans game to feed thousands of people during pork promotions? How about bringing it down and feeding thousands of people to provide some disaster relief help?” said Nicole Boettger, producer services director for the Pork Checkoff.

The National Pork Board worked with the Red Cross in coordinating the relief project.

This is a great story that proves the generosity of pork producers. Too often those involved in animal agriculture are labeled as animal abusers, meat is murder, and so on. I guarantee none of those flood victims in Tennessee complained about eating meat. They were happy to get it and appreciated those pork producers for their generosity. One of the big problems in America is the lack of anything. Americans have never been without; we have never been considered a "developing country." Because of this, many have lost site of the big picture. Because we have so much the only thing left is to complain. Complain about what we don't have but really don't need. Complain about what other people are doing or not doing. Complain about what we don't understand because we refuse learn. The point is, stop complaining and be happy with what is right in front of you because it could all vanish in a rain cloud. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Humane Watch

While searching the web for blog worthy stories I came across an interesting and entertaining video by Josh Bell on the Humane Watch website. See it here.  Josh Bell starts his video with an interesting true tale of a man entering a grocery store with a knife and cutting open packages of meat and throwing them on the floor. You'll love why he's doing it and Josh's commentary is rather amusing. He goes on to discuss HSUS and their practices. He does a great impression of the HSUS commercials, too. Check out his video and keep an eye on Humane Watch's website.